In his meetings with Taliban leaders, Wang Yi is expected to discuss various issues, including “the extension of political relations, economic and transit cooperation”.

Wang is one of the highest level visitors to Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of the war-torn country.
Wang is one of the highest level visitors to Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of the war-torn country. (AP Archive)

China’s foreign minister has made a surprise stop in Kabul to meet Afghanistan's Taliban leaders as the international community fumes over the Taliban’s broken promise to open schools to girls beyond the sixth grade.

Wang Yi will meet with Taliban leaders on Thursday “to discuss various issues including the extension of political relations, economic, and transit cooperation,” Afghanistan's official Bakhtar News Agency announced.

Since seizing power last August, the Taliban has been seeking international recognition in order to open up their economy, which has been in free fall since their arrival.

China, while refusing to offer recognition, has been engaging with the Taliban since their takeover. Wang is one of the highest level visitors to Afghanistan since the Taliban's return.

China has also avoided criticising the Taliban, despite their rules directed particularly at women, denying them unhindered access to work and school, and has kept its Embassy in Kabul open.

READ MORE: Taliban orders Afghan girls' schools shut hours after reopening

Chinese interests in Afghanistan

Afghans familiar with past talks between the Taliban and Chinese officials say Beijing wants Taliban commitments to prevent China's Uighur opponents from setting up operations in Afghanistan.

Last July Wang hosted a delegation from the group led by top Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar in the Chinese city of Tianjin, shortly before the group seized power from Afghanistan’s elected government.

At that meeting, Wang sought assurances the Taliban would not allow anti-China groups to operate under their rule and referred to the group as “a pivotal military and political force in Afghanistan.” 

He said they are “expected to play an important role in the process of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction.”

China also has economic and mining interests in Afghanistan, as well as interest in stability in the country, as it has been used as a base for insurgent attacks against its nationals in neighbouring Pakistan.

READ MORE: China’s approach to the Taliban is more cautious than it looks

Source: AP